Ceramic tiled floors
Glazed ceramic tiles are resistant to stains, but you shouldn't use abrasive or harsh acidic cleaners on them, since that could damage the glaze.
Remove all loose dust and any sand and debris by vacuuming the floor thoroughly. Always use a brush attachment to avoid scratching or dulling the finish. Next, clean the tiles using a microfibre mop and a mild, PH-neutral diluted soap such as laundry detergent. Use one capful per gallon of warm water.
Rinse the floor thoroughly afterwards with clean, warm water to remove any soapy residue, then wipe the tiles dry with a clean cloth or sponge to prevent streaky water marks.
Slate tiled floors
Slate is a particularly porous stone, so must be cared for correctly or it can end up looking dull and dirty in a short time.
Place doormats in all entrances to the room. Grit can cause wear and tear on slate tiles, so minimising debris is crucial. Vacuum the floor thoroughly with a brush attachment to remove dust, then clean the tiles using a microfibre mop and a mild, PH-neutral diluted detergent such as laundry powder, as you would for ceramic tiles.
Rinse the floor thoroughly afterwards with clean warm water, then let the tiles air dry. When they are completely clean and dry, give them a coat of a specialist product such as Fila Slate Protector. This will guard against future stains and water absorption, but won't leave a slippery film behind or alter the appearance of the slate.
Wood is a soft material that can be easily marked, so ban high heels inside your home and keep pet claws trimmed short. Make sure that furniture feet are covered with felt pads or have protective caps to prevent scratches when you move items around, and consider placing rugs in high-traffic areas to limit wear and tear.
Vacuum wooden floors with a soft brush attachment. This is preferable to sweeping because it will pick up dirt in between individual boards.
Clean the floor using a specialist wood cleaning product (a selection is available at ACE stores nationwide) and use a damp microfibre mop. Never flood wood floors with water. Spray the product on to the mop rather than on to the floor, so it is spread evenly. Leave to air dry.
Practical and easy to care for, laminate should be vacuumed regularly with a brush attachment to remove all dust and grit.
Use a damp, microfibre cloth or mop and a specialist product such as Armstrong Laminate floor cleaner to lift dirt away from the urethane surface without leaving behind a slippery film. Leave to air dry.
For dark scuff marks, try rubbing the affected area with a pencil eraser or a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water and a soft cloth.
Vinyl is inexpensive and warm underfoot. It's also easy to care for and not as sensitive to acidic cleaners as natural stone flooring.
Vacuum or sweep the floor thoroughly to remove grit and dust, which can scratch the vinyl surface and dull the shine. Mop the floor with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and hot water to cut through grease and grime without leaving a tacky residue behind.
Dark scuff marks can be tackled with a damp, clean cloth dipped in paint thinner. Rub it in to the area well, then rinse thoroughly with warm water and blot dry.
Concrete is a porous material that absorbs stains and dirt easily, so when it is used for contemporary interior flooring, it is usually treated with commercial sealers. If this is the case, you can clean it following the method for ceramic tiles above, then leave it to air dry.
Interior concrete will need to be buffed by a professional every year and resealed every three or four years.
For unsealed rough concrete floors in garages, sweep up all the major dust and debris, then vacuum thoroughly. Attach a hose pipe to your tap and turn it on full power. Use the strongest spray setting to blast the entire floor. Start at the rear and work forward, using broad sweeping motions. If stains remain, hire a power washer or a professional.
For car oil spills or stains, cover the affected area with cat litter and leave it for a few days to absorb. Then, sweep up the litter and pressure-wash the area with a hose or professional power washer.
Caring for grout
Tile grout is porous, and therefore easily absorbs grime, grease and lime scale. No matter how clean your floor tiles are, if the grout in between them is discoloured, covered in mildew or stained, it will spoil the appearance of the whole room. If you have a large area that is particularly dirty, it might be better to call in a professional with a steam cleaner to tackle it, but if you have a smaller area that just needs freshening up, you can do it yourself.
Using an old toothbrush or a comfortable-to-hold specialist tool such as the Oxo Good Grips grout brush, scrub away grime on grouting with a mild detergent such as Black Diamond UGC RTU Ultimate Grout Cleaner. Alternatively, you can use a home-made cleaning paste of bicarbonate of soda mixed with a small amount of white vinegar, but rinse the area thoroughly afterwards with warm water.
Once the grout is clean and has thoroughly dried, apply a sealer to it to protect it from mildew and dirt. Homax Jasco Bix 9314 Tile Guard Tile Grout Coating will whiten stained grout as well as guard it against future soiling.